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Still perfect : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Still perfect
Oswego girls' basketball team improves to 8-0 in SPC play

by Kristin Sharp


The Oswego girls' basketball team found itself in another tight game with visiting Minooka last Friday after one quarter of play.

The Panthers turned an early three-point deficit into a double-digit lead within minutes, and eventually cruised to a 51-36 win over Minooka to strengthen their hold atop the Southwest Prairie Conference standings.

Oswego (14-6) improves to 8-0 in the SPC, while Minooka falls to 13-4 and 5-2 - with both losses coming at the hands of the Panthers.

"I think we realized how good of a team we are and what we're capable of doing," Oswego junior Amri Wilder said. "We played how we're capable of playing."

Wilder found her groove early from behind the three-point arc, sinking three in the first quarter before eventually finishing with a game-high 20 points. Minooka led 10-7 late in the opening period, but Wilder hit back-to-back threes for a 13-10 swing.

Minooka's first basket of the second period created a 14-13 Indian lead, but junior Jordan Campbell scored her first basket of the game and sparked a 8-0 run with field goals by junior Erin Sinnott, senior Krissy Klingbeil and Wilder to push Oswego ahead 21-14.

"We're starting to hit our groove offensively. The girls are gaining a lot of confidence," Oswego head coach Chad Pohlmann said. "Minooka defended us tough, but we kept making plays and we kept moving the ball and broke them down. Amri's start to the game was huge. The first half of the season it was just a matter of gaining confidence and now we're finally getting to that point where we know we can play. We've gotten on a nice run here."

Wilder's next three-pointer came with 4:04 left in the first half of play, and senior Kelsey Nelson followed with a long-range jumper for a 26-15 Oswego lead. The Panthers never looked back, outscoring Minooka 15-5 in the second quarter to hold a 28-17 halftime lead.

"They're a very experienced team. Their starting five worked together all last year," Minooka head coach Ray Liberatore said. "They shot the ball extremely well, executed their offense extremely well and I told our girls that I didn't feel like it was a game we lost; I felt like it was a game they won because they played so well."

Junior Siarra O'Neill stepped behind the arc in the third quarter and her three-pointer gave Oswego a 35-21 lead before she converted again with a driving layup on the next possession. Minooka put together a 7-0 run to cut Oswego's lead to 37-28, but Nelson ended the run with a layup, and another O'Neill basket gave Oswego a 42-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Sinnott was the next player to hit a three-pointer in the game, giving Oswego a 45-32 lead, and Wilder added four more points before Oswego's starters took a seat on the bench for the final 2:00 of play.

"This game was nerve-wracking. We got our game notes earlier today and we really focused," Sinnott said. "Amri came in and just did a point guard's job. I felt like going into the game, my only job was to play good defense."

Notes: Oswego played four games in DeKalb's Martin Luther King Tournament last Saturday and Monday, going 3-1 over the two-day effort. With its lone loss coming against Rock Island, the Panthers have now won 10 of their last 11 games.

"The five losses we had, outside of Neuqua Valley, all of those games were there for us and we learned from it," Pohlmann said before entering the DeKalb tournament. "We kept coming to practice and working, and it's just a matter of gaining that confidence. We're playing good team basketball now."

Oswego opened tournament play with a 42-32 win over Glenbard East, establishing the lead in the second quarter of play to build a 20-16 halftime advantage. Wilder had a team-best 14 points while Nelson scored 10 points and Sinnott led the defensive charge with 11 rebounds while Campbell had five steals.

In Game 2, Rock Island exploded to a 34-0 lead before Sinnott scored the first basket of the game for Oswego. The Panthers trailed 38-19 after back-to-back baskets by O'Neill, who shot 4-for-9 from the field and finished with a team-high nine points.

Oswego rebounded against Maine South last Saturday, winning 48-38. Wilder scored 17 points while Campbell chipped in with 12 points.

The Panthers closed out the tournament with a 41-38 win over Stevenson. Oswego held a 28-20 halftime lead, but Stevenson chipped away at its deficit to eventually lead 38-37.

Wilder hit a field goal to put Oswego back in the lead and followed moments later with a 2-for-2 effort at the foul line for a 41-38 lead, and the Panthers held on for the win. Sinnott scored 14 points and nine rebounds, Campbell had 12 points and Wilder added 11 points in the effort.

Oswego resumes SPC play on Friday, hosting Plainfield South at 6:30 p.m. before facing Lincoln-Way East at home on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Panthers will play Plainfield North, Plainfield Central and Romeoville before a much-anticipated rematch with Oswego East on Feb. 7.

Oswego East picked up a 45-44 win over Minooka on Tuesday to improve to 7-1 and remain one game behind the Panthers in the SPC title hunt.

"East is a big rivalry game and anything can happen. I think East is our next biggest challenge," Wilder said.

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